6    Sep 20101 comment

Six Degrees of Separation

Exploring your family history is always fascinating and can unearth a wealth of information, as well as bringing together long lost relatives.  From time to time we hear wonderful stories about people reunited with lost relatives who were living close by, or who were connected to the same circle of friends. 

This can also include great examples of the concept of Six Degrees of Separation.  The premise of Six Degrees of Separation is that we are all connected by up to five other people.

The theory was first conceived in 1929 by the Hungarian writer, Frigyes Karinthy.  However, the concept of Six Degrees of Separation became very popular in the 1990s, following the succes of John Guare's play and the release his movie of the same name, starring Will Smith.  

In the movie, Ouisa says:
I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet. The President of the United States, a gondolier in Venice, just fill in the names.”

The concept took on a new twist in the 1990’s, when three uni students started playing a game relating to the American actor, Kevin Bacon.  This took off quickly, with the students appearing on major talk shows in America, and the game became known as Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Originally offended, Kevin came to embrace the game and took it to a whole new level.  In January 2007, he launched the website SixDegrees.org, to enable people to link into a charitable social network and to encourage others to support their favourite charities online.

"SixDegrees.org is about using the idea that we are all connected to accomplish something good," said Bacon. "It is my hope that Six Degrees will soon be something more than a game or a gimmick. It will also be a force for good, by bringing a social conscience to social networking."

With ever increasing advances with technology, and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, we appear to be closer than ever before.  Many of us are finding greater examples of connectivity that continues to grow.

So when you need a brief break from searching for through all those branches of your family tree, take a look in a different direction and see just how close you are to Kevin Bacon!

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  1. Is there any chance you'll allow family members to update the family tree themselves? Having a centralized updating system is not very popular these days... Are you planning on implementing wiki-style editing for family trees? This will bring so much more info into the tree...

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